The Authors Guild applauds the many authors taking part in the #PublishingPaidMe initiative, which YA author L.L. McKinney started to highlight pay disparities between Black and white authors, and stands in solidarity with the thousands of publishing employees who took part in Monday’s “day of action” against the lack of diversity in the industry.
We are heartened by the thousands of authors coming together to publicly share details of their advances with the #PublishingPaidMe hashtag, and to those submitting information to Grace Fong’s Google Sheets spreadsheet. Transparency is a critical precursor to change. The data collected on the spreadsheet will help the industry draw insights it can use, and we encourage all authors to anonymously add their information.
The stark picture of inequality in publishing revealed by the #PublishingPaidMe initiative is similar to what we highlighted in our in February 2020 report, “The Profession of the Author in the 21st Century,” which showed that authors of color earn roughly half the median income of white authors. Making matters worse, this gap appears to have increased since 2013, when minority authors reported a median income equivalent to 58% of white authors’ median.
Other reports from the publishing industry reveal a similar pattern of unequal pay and opportunities between individuals from white backgrounds vs. racial and ethnic minorities, especially African Americans. According to Lee and Low’s 2019 diversity survey, 85% of editors self-identified as white, and only 5% of Black-identifying individuals are represented in the industry overall.
As these numbers make clear, all of us need to step up now and vastly increase the scope and pace of our efforts to eradicate racism in the publishing industry. The Authors Guild holds itself responsible and is doubling down on our programs and advocacy to help lift Black authors and to close the racial pay gap.